Two weeks ago at AoH Boston, Ginny Wiley, Naava Frank, and a few others lead a Resiliency Cafe (ala World Cafe). It was in the morning of our first full day together. The intention was to bring out some of the experience we know of resiliency, activate that kind of energy in the group, and link it to building our resiliency for working in times like these.
For this cafe there were three questions in successive rounds: 1) When have you experienced courage and what was that like before, during, and after? 2) What do you need to let go of to move forward with courage? 3) What is important to take with you to work with courage?
I won’t share the details of the stories here. Those were shared more in private. But I will share the principles that came to me from the stories. With gratitude to all those with whom I got to explore that morning, and the hosting team for creating a container in which this group of 36 could learn well.
Principles from Stories of Courage
- Follow Your Freedom — particularly when aware that you have changed and others have not, even the ones closest to us.
- Let Go — even in the moves of life that pick us up from our places of familiarity and move us, geographically, to new and different places.
- Speak From Your Heart — this one was from me, so I can tell a bit more. These were the words spoken by my then eight year-old son as our family was deciding whether to adopt a newborn. We sat in circle on a bed after a mostly sleepless night. The kids spoke. The adults spoke. I invited each of us to speak from our hearts. When it came time for my son to speak, he shared, “There are times when we have to have courage. This is one of them.” Many tears followed. And an adoption.
- Trust, Even When You Are Vulnerable — even when traveling abroad and you’ve lost everything to theft, yet need help.
- Be Honest in Assessing Self; Be Real — particularly when you are overcommitted and haven’t been able to deliver on what you said you would or could for a group of students.
Things to Let Go Of to Move Forward
- Being the Expert — or perhaps, the need to be the expert. The myth, mostly unchallenged and engrained that one person (leaders), if they are good, must know it all.
- Control & Fear — pretty closely linked to expertise. Others have written about this extensively. In living systems, not all is predictable. Yet, most systems still measure as if all should be predictable. Closely related to “lack of control is failure.”
- Need for Specific Outcomes — I don’t feel like this is a letting go of specific intentions. It is however, a welcome of surprise that shows up as a unique expression of manifestation of intentions. As Meg Wheatley says, “who we are together is always different and more than who we are alone.”
- Aloneness — I’ve heard it said many times that the fundamental angst of humans is separation and aloneness. Yet, it is an outgrowth of the science within which all of us have lived — separation into parts to further understand what we hope is the whole. Byron Katie’s work is some of the best I know to shine a bit of light on such thoughts, so as to remove the unintended enslavement. Colleague Caitlin Frost is one of the best I know at helping to facilitate such — good clearing and letting go.
- The Belief that “I Would Be More Comfortable Somewhere Else” — Funny how this one can hold so many back. The grass might appear greener, and perhaps sometimes it is. Yet, this is a belief that reduces ability to fully engage in the present.
Things to Take With You to Work with Courage
- Authentic Self in the Work — As I’ve heard colleague Tim Merry say, “Be yourself. Everybody else is taken.”
- Ease — When we look at our work as being in partnership with the seen and the unseen, the broader energy in the world, things don’t have to be efforted (thanks Amy Gilburg for this phrase). What if we were to look for the ease, and further, release ourselves from the belief that if it is easy, it must not be the right work?
- Belonging — Presume connection until apprehended. With colleagues. With community. With purpose.
- Work from Simplicity — I’ve always loved this about AoH gatherings. There is a point at which the simple becomes more visible and more plausible. Not as reduction. But rather, I believe, as higher resonance because of the group being together. Back to Meg, the group is always more….
Splendid learning. Gifts that I now carry with me that help immensely. From the simple exchange through the World Cafe format. Nice work team.